And it seems as though the walls pull you toward them during parties. As everyone socializes you merely stand, a little out of the crowd, awkwardly waiting for someone to magically appear and invite you into a conversation- which would actually be terrible because you haven't had any words for awhile. She's been gone for awhile. You grimace with the champagne, dry and cheap and singeing all the way down. It's not as though you hate these people for being happy-; except that you do. You honestly do. Especially the woman from 4B who laughs with her eyes and her husband who constantly touches his ring making sure it's still there. You really hate that. You're not anti-social, you just don't enjoy the company of anyone who isn't her (and now, in light of the current situation, you suppose that you hate her the most out of all.) Tonight is good for you, you need to meet people and get out of that stuffy apartment and into this stuffy bar where everything is just about the same except for a thousand times more socially terrifying.
"Can I sit?" and it's stupid really because you've already lowered yourself in the chair before asking but she doesn't object. An empty chair. A quiet girl. A brief respite from the music and lights and fake cheerfulness. She merely looks down her eyelashes and nervously raises the cup to her lips. "So... what do you do for fun?"
And it's probably the stupidest question you've ever asked another person and you can't even believe the words have left your lips and out of habit you raise your hand to your mouth as if to stop yourself from making it any worse. You look down, she's got pink toenails. Why does that hurt? The shade of them, the fact that they're so precise and perfect and you think that she must have spent an hour on them. Maybe she even messed up, had to redo it, maybe she thought that tonight someone would look at her feet and fall in love with her. Why does that hurt? Why does that put a lump in your throat to think about?
"I, uh." You'd almost forgotten about the question from 38 seconds ago. She's actually going to answer. "I like to call the police on the couple upstairs." You almost choke on your drink. "I mean, 4B. I get bored sometimes and it's kind of funny to call the cops to report strange noises. They're so happy, I think it's unhealthy to be that happy with someone. Even if you love them. Things need to happen."
"I agree, in a sense." And now she's opened a book she can't close. "But the happiness has to outweigh the sadness. Or the fights. Maybe they just feel secure, maybe he makes her feel important."
"She must know how important she is, I mean come on. They live together. He has a job too, I've seen him leave early in the morning, he can't just spend all his time with her."
"He doesn't need to spend all his time, just a fraction. Maybe she feels like she's being left behind, or that she's become an obligation. Maybe she feels like he talks to her out of habit and not out of love. She probably feels pretty stupid to have fallen in love with him in the first place. She's probably coming to terms with how stupid it was to even meet him... because look how close they are. How it's going to tear her apart when he leaves."
"Who says he's leaving? He looks pretty happy, don't you think she looks happy? She has to be happy."
"I mean, yes. She's happy when he's next to her and miserable when he's not. Probably."
"Thats not fair to either of them."
"You're telling me."
And you take another sip and wince a little more and she re-adjusts her purse and thats when you catch sight of her fingernails. Bitten down to the cuticle, remnants of a carefully hidden anxiety problem, a nervous tick that you would bet no one else notices. But you do, you're quite good at noticing things that others don't and thats why they used to call you romantic (you called it pathetic.). How adorable it is that she bites her nails and you realize how small her hands really are, how the fingers are thin and callouses spring up on the tips of her left. How the freckles spread up from her wrists all across her, her nose, her sliver of shoulder, her forehead. Other girls were plain blank pages and she was a fucking portrait. You have a strange urge to kiss the spot under her earlobe.
"Maybe 4B is beyond repair. Maybe they should just give up." And the second you say the words she turns her head away, tilting up slightly. You see the literal sting of them and you're glad in a way. Glad that she cares even if it's just shown in the misery. Maybe that makes you a bad person. It probably makes you a bad person. She's blinking away a glaze on her eyes and the corner of her mouth starts to quiver. Her voice shakes.
"Maybe he doesn't want to give up." Sucker punch. The overwhelming natural instinct to protect the weaker, protect things that are precious.
"Maybe she doesn't either." She turns to you fully, for the first time and makes direct eye contact. Those eyes, they get so green when she cries and in them- something searching. A pained hopefulness, a longing for something in yours that she's scared to death she might not find. But she does, she finds it because it's there and always will be.
"Can we please go home?" she asks.
"But the party isn't over yet."